Monica Samuels

“Each day is an opportunity to make a difference.”

Monica Samuels is the VP of Sake and Spirits at Vine Connections, a leading importer of premium sake. Monica got her start working for marketing and entertainment firms during the day and restaurants at night (she was even a sushi chef at a jazz club!). She soon followed her true calling to hospitality and is now a sake savant. It’s a role that requires many hours on the road, educating people on sake and how to be successful selling it. “Many of these people are women, as our industry is finally becoming more diverse!” Monica says. “One of the most rewarding parts of my job is when someone keeps in regular contact to discuss issues she is facing, or to update me on successes she's had as a result of the work we've done together.”

The Hall of Femme honoree was nominated by Sarah Bray, who praised Monica for "making waves in the sake world.” And when it comes to aligning those waves with her personal values, Monica keeps cultural pride top of mind. “My Japanese heritage is very important to me, so being able to do something that enables me to give a voice to Japanese artisans — who are so incredibly humble — and educate the US audience to appreciate the labor of love that goes into craft sake, makes my work feel very true to self.”

Find Monica on Instagram.